One of our Cats went to France and met up with a team in Montpellier, and here is her story
I went to Montpellier, in southern France, to visit my daughter, and contacted to local roller derby club.
About a month earlier, Scary told me there was a league there, so I found them on Facebook, and sent a message asking if I could join a practice, and if they had gear I could borrow. A really nice girl, Marie Strike, answered, and told me I was welcome.
They practice in a nice gym at Gymnase Georges Brassens. To get there we took the tram for almost 30 minutes, and then walked a kilometer. I was a bit nervous that we wouldn’t find it, but when a group of girls that looked like derby players boarded the tram I took a chance and asked them. Sure enough, and we walked together.
Montpellier Death Pouffes has both women’s and men’s teams, and I joined this year’s fresh meat, who started in March 2014. 12 girls at about my own level – none had MS yet.
Marie Strike and two guys were coaching that day. The gym was big, and the track was taped permanently, with the other lines and markings. Luxury!
We started off-skate, and ran around for about 5 minutes before putting our skates on. I borrowed a pair that definitely had seen better days. Like worn-out old high-ankled gym shoes. There was no way I could tighten them enough on my feet, and the wheels were grippier than my outdoor ones. The toestops were removed, and then I saw that most of them skated without. I asked one of the coaches, and he said that beginners weren’t allowed, and had to learn to skate without to not stumble on them. The rest of the gear, like the knee pads, weren’t the thick version that we use. Our stuff is so much better!
We started by skating in a paceline at different speeds, then warm-up, kind of like the off-skate we did with Fisty and Ruby, but while skating around.
After that we skated full out during 5 minutes and tried to pass each other. Then we did plow stops, backwards skating and transitions. Those who were late had to do a bunch of jump-ups.
After warm-up we did a big pack, three rows of four blockers, and a jammer (=the coach). If the row in the back let the jammer through they skated ahead and got in first. Then a second coach/jammer was brought in.
The tempo was faster and tougher than what I’m used to, and everybody was really good at regular skating, but not at hits, side-cuts and things like that. But the league had grown really fast, and this group was this year’s fresh meat. The MS-players have their own practice.
Everybody was really nice, but very young. I told them they were welcome to our practice if they were in the neighborhood. I gave Marie Strike my Hellcats t-shirt as a thank you. We are all welcome there again, and there’s no fee for guests.
//Stina alias Dragon Queen #6